New Blu-rays this week are inundated with terrifying bloody carnage, soapy teen romance, and drunken clowns. Geez, sounds like my seventh birthday party all over again.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Alien: Covenant‘ – The trailers for Ridley Scott’s new xenomorph splatterfest all made it look like a shameless retread of the original ‘Alien’ movie. Depending on whom you listen to, this was either a much-needed course correction after the disastrous ‘Prometheus’ or an even worse desecration of the franchise. I was so turned off by ‘Prometheus’ that there was no chance I’d pay to see this in a theater. Despite a surprising number of lukewarm-to-positive reviews, everybody I know whose opinion I halfway respect reported that the movie doubles-down on all the worst mistakes in ‘Prometheus’ (the idiotic characters and plotting) while offering nothing new but some overzealous gore. Audiences in general didn’t find it very appealing. The movie did about half as much business as ‘Prometheus’. Nevertheless, Fox is making a full court press on video, issuing the film on Blu-ray and UHD with several retailer exclusives (including SteelBooks at Best Buy) for each format. [Note that, despite ‘Prometheus’ and ‘The Martian’, Ridley Scott did not shoot this movie in 3D or have it converted. It has only ever been a 2D movie.]
‘Everything, Everything‘ – A teenage girl who can’t ever leave her house because she’s allergic to everything in the world has a forbidden romance with a neighbor boy and sneaks out to take a trip to Hawaii with him. Umm, I don’t think that’s how allergies work. You don’t get to take a vacation from them. But wait! The movie has a plot twist. By my merely mentioning that it exists, I’m sure you’re smart enough to figure out what that plot twist is for yourself. I would’ve warned you about the spoiler, but do you honestly care? The movie is based on a YA romance novel that, remarkably, wasn’t written by Nicholas Sparks, just someone imitating him.
‘How to Be a Latin Lover‘ – Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez fronted the $100 million smash ‘Instructions Not Included’ in 2013 and had another big surprise hit this year. In this one, he plays an aging lothario who struggles to reignite his powers of seduction after being dumped by his elderly wealthy wife. Actor/comedian Ken Marino directed, with supporting roles by familiar faces including Kristen Bell, Rob Lowe, Rob Corddry, Salma Hayek and Raquel Welch.
‘Chuck‘ – No, it’s not a big screen adaptation of the goofy spy series about a nerd with a computer database in his brain. Originally (and much more evocatively) titled ‘The Bleeder’, Liev Schreiber stars in a bio-pic about boxer Chuck Wepner, who had a brief moment of fame after fighting Muhammad Ali and was allegedly Sylvester Stallone’s inspiration for ‘Rocky’. Hubris, failure, redemption, and other sports bio-pic clichés are reportedly the order of the day, though Schreiber’s performance is said to be very good.
‘The Wall‘ – When his big-budget ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ underperformed, director Doug Liman scaled back to make a war thriller with only three characters and a single location. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena play American soldiers pinned behind a crumbling wall by an Iraqi sniper. According to reviews, Liman works very hard to milk this scenario for maximum suspense, but the movie runs out of steam and inventiveness by the end.
In addition to ‘Alien: Covenant‘, Fox also upgrades its predecessor ‘Prometheus‘ to 4k.
Matthew McConaughey fans might be interested to check out ‘The Lincoln Lawyer‘ in Ultra HD. All right, all right, all right…
Luke Hemsworth (older brother of Chris and Liam) ironically did not get to play a cowboy in ‘Westworld’. However, he gets a chance now by starring as famed gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok in the Western ‘Hickok‘, which seems to be going direct-to-video (exclusively in a UHD + Blu-ray combo pack or a separate DVD, but no standalone Blu-ray edition). The IMDb user reviews for it are pretty brutal.
It should surprise no one that Fox would milk ‘Covenant’ for the opportunity to bundle the franchise into an ‘Alien: 6-Film Collection‘ box set. If you can do basic math, you should be able to figure out that the two ‘Alien vs. Predator’ movies are not included.
Twilight Time gets into the seasonal spirit with Elizabeth Taylor in the Tennessee Williams adaptation ‘Suddenly, Last Summer‘, Paul Newman in the William Faulkner adaptation ‘The Long, Hot Summer‘, and the Japanese WWII drama ‘The Emperor in August‘. Breaking from the theme are the Elvis musical ‘Kid Galahad‘ and the Joe Pesci hitman comedy ‘8 Heads in a Duffel Bag‘. I wasn’t aware that the latter, a box office flop, had any sort of cult audience who might be willing to pay Twilight Time prices. Does it?
The Criterion Collection jumps into some espionage intrigue with the 1980 Walter Matthau spy comedy ‘Hopscotch‘. The label then turns serious for a moment to examine the British lower classes in ‘Meantime‘, the breakout feature for director Mike Leigh and actors Tim Roth and Gary Oldman.
The Warner Archive engages in some ‘Night Moves‘ with Arthur Penn’s acclaimed 1973 detective thriller starring Gene Hackman.
MGM’s 2014 Blu-ray edition of Sergio Leone’s famed “Man with No Name” Western ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly‘ applied a controversial yellow tint over the movie that left many fans displeased. In licensing the title for a new 50th Anniversary Edition, Kino has removed that tint (working from MGM’s master, color correcting it digitally), and also provides the film’s original theatrical cut (favored by many fans over the bloated extended cut, also included) on Blu-ray for the first time.
Kino then delivers another Western with producer David O. Selznick’s overwrought epic ‘Duel in the Sun‘ (or “Lust in the Dust,” as it was nicknamed at the time).
Machine gun-wielding badass Chuck Norris single-handedly rescues American P.O.W.s from their Vietnamese captors in the dopey 1984 action flick ‘Missing in Action‘, which gets a Collector’s Edition reissue from Shout! Factory.
Finally (and most excitingly!), long overdue for Blu-ray release is Bobcat Goldthwait’s hilarious dark comedy ‘Shakes the Clown‘. How did this elude the grasp of the Criterion Collection and wind up as a budget disc from Mill Creek? What an injustice!
We have lots of TV action this week, including the first season of ‘Riverdale‘, the second season of ‘Legends of Tomorrow‘, the fourth season of ‘The Blacklist‘, and the sixth season of ‘Once Upon a Time‘.
As a long-suffering fan of the franchise, I’m going to have to force myself to watch ‘Alien: Covenant’ at some point. I just can’t justify buying a copy right now.
A lot of other titles are going on my wish list this week, especially ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, ‘Night Moves’, ‘Suddenly, Last Summer’, ‘The Long, Hot Summer’, ‘Hopscotch’, ‘Meantime’ and, yes, ‘Shakes the Clown’.
What are your plans for the week?